So, maybe it will be the year of the moderate Republican.

Here in Texas, longtime Republican Speaker of the House Tom Craddick has resigned his position due to opposition from the moderate wing of his own party. Poised to replace him is Joe Straus, a 49 year-old representative from San Antonio known for his willingness to work with Democrats.

Straus will almost certainly be elected Speaker later this month because he was able to assemble a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to support his candidacy. Most expect him to be a more inclusive and far less combative leader of the House, which Republicans control by a 76-74 vote margin.

I’m pleased to see Craddick ousted. The man put partisanship and petty politics over the interests of the state. Straus, while relatively inexperienced, has a record of thinking for himself and not towing the party line just because that’s the easy thing to do. I also happen to live in Straus’ district (heck, I live in his precinct), so I’m familiar with his style and have readily voted for him in the last several contests.

What will be interesting for Republicans, is whether or not Straus’ leadership can help the GOP keep control of the State House. A lot of Republicans felt Craddick’s style was to blame for their diminishing power. If a moderate Republican can reenergize the party, then more such Republicans may have a chance of gaining power. If not, moderate Republicanism in Texas may be short lived.

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